The department’s Farm to School program has more than a million reasons to celebrate. For the first time in the program’s history, it topped $1 million in sales.
In fact, sales for the 2011-12 school year totaled more than $1.2 million. Altogether, nearly 1,600 schools particpated, ordering more than 1.5 million pounds of produce. That means more healthy and nutritous food offerings in school lunches and also more business for North Carolina farmers.
Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler knew this was the year to make history.
“The Farm to School program has continued to grow each year, and this year we saw 14 new school districts participate. I was confident this would be the year we reached $1 million in sales,” he said. “A strong finish with strawberry and blueberry orders helped push us over that mark.”
Under the program, school systems across the state can order fresh North Carolina produce, which is coordinated and transported to schools by the NCDA&CS Food Distribution and Marketing divisions.
Farm-fresh produce offered includes apples, blueberries, broccoli crowns, cabbage, cantaloupes, collards, cucumbers, peaches, romaine lettuce, squash, sprite melons, strawberries, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watermelons and zucchini. Students’ favorites based on sales numbers were apple slices, strawberries and blueberries.
The program served more than 1 million students this year, up 100,000 from the 2010-11 school year.
With the recent announcement of a $1.2 million grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of North Carolina to purchase additional tractor-trailers, the Farm to School program is expected to continue to expand.